Even with a tent full of sweet-smelling ladies, the air wouldn’t be much fresher with a room full of people standing and sitting like this, let alone a bunch of stinky, old men.
After a while, the air in the tent became turbid. However, this did not affect their voices in any way. They went “waaaah” and “aaaaah” as they argued endlessly.
Chang An soon yawned. He shrank back in his seat to make himself less conspicuous. Leaning in one corner, he propped up a knee, and with his head down, he covered his face with the arm across his knee and began to doze off with his mind focused on sleep.
While he was busy stealing some time to sleep, the old beastman, Bu Dong, who had been guarding the tower with him, got into a dispute with Ka Zuo.
One said that they should go out, close the city gates again, and then hunt down Black Wind, while the other said that it would be foolish not to use the big, good city gate that was standing right there.
At first, they pretended to be refined as they presented the facts and reasoned things out, but after a while, their tempers flared and they began to talk their own way. The more they talked, the more unreasonable they became, and after that, they were like chickens talking to ducks1鸡同鸭讲 (idiom) – talking without communicating; people not understanding each other as they quarrelled with each other.
Ka Zuo pointed at the tip of Bu Dong’s nose and cursed, “You old thing, just shrinking behind the walls like a shrinking old bastard!”
Bu Dong said, “You don’t know shit!”
Ka Zuo stood up and slapped the little table with his big hand. “You’re just afraid of getting into trouble! Go back to your own tent if you don’t dare. Don’t make a fool of yourself in front of others!”
Bu Dong continued saying, “You don’t know shit!”
Ka Zuo lifted his hand to lift the table, and a circle of people were forced to stand up. With his hands on his hips, he glared and yelled, “If you put it that way, we’ll never be able to live a good life. Today, we can beat them through the walls between us, but tomorrow, when they’re in a good mood and have nothing else to do, they’ll just come back again. Don’t you need to farm, fish, and hunt? Are you just gonna waste time with them the whole day?”
Bu Dong, who was sitting behind the overturned table, raised his eyelids at his words. “Did I mean that?”
Then he gave Ka Zuo a sarcastic glance and added a resounding “You don’t know shit!”
Ka Zuo strode over. Since they couldn’t understand each other with words, they might as well fight. But of course, Hua Yi wouldn’t let them get into a fight in front of so many people. It was also a little hard to watch, so Hua Yi secretly stretched out a foot to trip him. Ka Zuo, who hadn’t been looking, lunged forward and fell on his knees, knocking against Chang An’s elbow.
Ka Zuo’s forehead banged on the young man’s hard bones, and he cried out “ouch” at the top of his voice. Chang An’s arm was knocked off his knee, and it hit his face. He swayed and woke up disoriented. Frowning, he lifted his eyes up with an expression that was both impatient and confused.
Ka Zuo stared at him for a moment and yelled out unbelievingly, “You fell asleep! How could you sleep through such a big thing?”
Chang An: “……”
He was silent for a moment, and with a sullen face, he quietly kicked Ka Zuo off.
Fortunately, Ka Zuo’s attention was no longer on him the next moment. He jumped up and pounced menacingly on Bu Dong. “You old bastard!”
“Ai, pull them apart, pull them apart.” Hua Yi waved his hand helplessly. He leaned back into his chair and sighed. Every time he saw Ka Zuo, he would lose judgment of his own intelligence for there would always be an overwhelming sense of superiority.
Suo Laimu smiled at him meaningfully and said, “King of the Beasts.”
Hua Yi gave him a blank stare, then turned to Chang An and said even more weakly, “Why are you so sleepy early in the morning? Impatient to listen to us talk, aren’t you?”
Chang An did not at all feel that it was inappropriate for him to doze off in public at the meeting place, so he nodded very frankly.
Hua Yi choked on his breath, not knowing how to respond. After choking for a moment, he could only say, “Ai, you… you go ahead first and sleep.”
Chang An rubbed his eyes. He had been waiting for him to say this, so he immediately stood up and left happily.
He had no opinion about the war, so he couldn’t say anything. He just felt that the people who came to provoke him for no reason were annoying.
From an early age, however, Chang An understood that one person couldn’t decide how others should be like. He thought to himself that he was probably a little stupid. He didn’t have the ability to think ahead and to look at the big picture, and he didn’t always understand other people’s minds. He had no way of predicting or determining when people would bully him, belittle him, take care of him, or be nice to him.
So after thinking it over, Chang An let it go. The only way he could keep living peacefully was to become strong enough to deal with the things he couldn’t control and to bring to an end with his own hands what he himself had judged to be good and evil… It was just like when he was a child and he heard the carpenter say the truth about Zhe Yan’s death. There was a sudden surge of uncontrollable hatred and viciousness, which only subsided when the screams of those people all faded away in the fire.
This was the path he had found for himself. So even with only a small piece of metal in his hand, he dared to break into Yufeng Mountain. Even if he was born with a bad root bone, he never let go of the saber in his hand for even a day for over a decade.
Hua Yi was stunned to see Chang An just nod his head and walk away without a word. Finally, he couldn’t help but quietly complain to Suo Laimu, “How is he so heartless!”
Suo Laimu raised his eyelids and took a look at him. He said lazily, “He is heartless, but he knows the difference between good and bad. Isn’t he much better than a dirty-hearted and bad-lunged2脏心烂肺 – someone who is indecent and has evil intentions person who has the heart of a wolf and lungs of a dog3狼心狗肺 – cruel and unscrupulous? Chief, if you ask me, don’t be so brazen to sell good when you are cheap4便宜卖乖 – to pretend to suffer a loss even after having gained an advantage.”
Hua Yi shyly laughed a “hehe” for a while.
Then he got serious. Reaching across the table, he tapped his hand, then coughed and got down to business. “How many people do we have?”
Shan Xi, who had been silently watching the show, said, “Excluding the women, children, craftsmen, and farmers who couldn’t fight, as well as the wounded and the sick, there are 308 people in total.”
Shan Xi looked pleased. While the outside world was talking, he knew inside how exactly things stood. When he and Hua Yi said this, the others who had been jumping up and down couldn’t help but quiet down. In the north, a tribe of a hundred or so men, women, children, and old people was no longer a small tribe. In the eyes of others, their tribe was practically strong and powerful.
However, Hua Yi fell silent for a moment. He rested his chin on his hand, and after a long while, he meaningfully said in a soft voice, “Few people ah.”
On that day’s meeting, the lights in the tent were kept on until midnight. By the time everyone had dispersed, the sky was almost white. Hua Yi put his hands around the small heater and followed the people out as if he was sending them off. Suo Laimu couldn’t help but ask, “Why are you so polite today? It’s almost dawn. Why don’t you go lie down for a while?”
Hua Yi appeared to be sending them all out, but in fact, his sincerity was limited. He walked not thirty steps before turning in the other direction. On hearing this, he turned his head and threw Suo Laimu a disdainful look. He said smugly, “Where’s the fun in lying down by yourself when it’s so cold? You don’t understand.”
This made Suo Laimu, the old bachelor, mad as hell.
Chang An was roused from his sleep because of someone suddenly coming over. Having lived in the tribe for many years, he no longer had the habit of keeping a weapon by his pillow and being ready to flee any time like back when he lived in the forest. However, even unarmed, he’d still react instinctively.
He wasn’t clear-headed, but his movements were as clear-headed as they could be. The man was pinned down with a flip, and a hand with protruding veins was already pressed against the other man’s throat.
After a close look, he found that it was Hua Yi lying there, smiling at him. Without a care that he was being choked, Hua Yi held Chang An’s waist and drew him closer. He gently patted his back twice, and said softly, “What are you doing? Murdering your husband?”
Chang An released his hand and said, “It’s you? Is there something you need?”
Hua Yi’s eyes flashed, and his hands, which had been groping Chang An’s back, reached into his clothes in a very dishonest way. His fingers were a little cold, and Chang An shivered, waking his mind a bit. But then Hua Yi suddenly pushed him off himself. With his hands propped up on the sides of Chang An’s neck, he lowered his head and kissed him on the forehead. His voice low, he said, “Hey, let me ask you, can I take off your pants now?”
From a logical point of view, he clearly could. However, Hua Yi’s face was so cheap and what he did was so undignified that Chang An blurted out, “Why are you always thinking about my pants?”
Hua Yi corrected, “Who cares about your lousy pants? I care about taking your pants off.”
Chang An frowned and felt quite uncomfortable. What good could he find under his pants? He thought to himself: This guy Hua Yi got nothing to do on his mind.
… At this point, he had forgotten who it was who slept with spring and autumn dreams while there was a meeting in the tent.
Hua Yi said like a rogue, “Still won’t do? But you said it yourself…”
Chang An didn’t want to dwell on this issue. He believed that one should not be as unhappy as Zhe Yan, who had a truckload of words in his heart all day long but frowned silently and waited for others to understand.
So Chang An pressed down the discomfort and very generously waved his hand. “Fine, fine, take it off if you like. Take a good look at what’s more than yours, so you don’t have to think about it all day.”
He shot his mouth off about manly dignity, and Hua Yi angrily slapped him on the butt. “Is it so hard for you to say something human?”
Chang An was silent for a moment. He couldn’t figure out where he had offended him, so he said helplessly, “You’re really hard to serve.”
Hua Yi smiled maliciously, “Then I will serve you well.”
His hand, which was roaming on Chang An’s waist, had already warmed up from the other man’s skin, and it swimmed into Chang An’s pants like a fish. Chang An stirred; a strange sensation was coming from a place that had never been touched before. He resisted the urge to pull out Hua Yi’s hand, and his body unconsciously arched.
Hua Yi lowered his head and kissed him on the lips, but this time, it was not so gentle. He forcefully pried open Chang An’s mouth, and as if to show him how good he was, he came over like a wild wind sweeping away the dead leaves.